We all respond to music on a very deep level, especially the music we remember from our childhood and teenage years. Some pieces cause an automatic, powerful flood of memories. It’s not hard to understand that music can be beneficial to Alzheimer’s patients. But what you may not know is just how pervasive these benefits are.
Music can alleviate pain, improve sleep, ease anxiety, and boost one’s mood. Indeed, it can sometimes do more to stimulate healing than conventional medicine. Music has been demonstrated to release the feel-good chemical serotonin and decrease cortisol, which is associated with stress.
How does this work for Alzheimer’s patients specifically? Seniors who are new to assisted living are in an unfamiliar place, and this change can result in negative psychological effects like aggression or aggitation. But a meaningful song takes them back to the familiar, and as a result they become more comfortable in the new environment and easier for caregivers to work with. The senior may be smiling, tapping their feet, or even swaying in place: their joy is palpable. Some experimenting with music and seniors have found that this technique can lessen or even eliminate the need for drugs that treat depression and anxiety – at a much lower price than the cost of these expensive treatments!
Consider getting your loved one some sort of music player as a gift, so that they can listen to songs of their choice whenever they want to. Some have found dramatic effects when giving seniors iPods or other digital music players, but even a less cutting-edge CD player will do if it’s easier for your loved one to handle. Use upbeat music stimulate: to help motivate mom to move towards her bath, for example. Songs with slower tempos can be used to help your loved one calm down or fall asleep. Encourage movement and singing along to help increase the benefits. Before you know what songs they’ll enjoy, watch their reactions carefully. A song that is beautiful to one person may evoke feelings of sadness in another, for example. Stay away from music that has commercials, such as that played over the radio or by a streaming service such as Pandora. These interruptions can confuse Alzheimer’s patients. Also make sure that there aren’t too many other distracting noises in the room, and don’t turn the volume up too loud.
Bringing music into your loved one’s world may seem like a small change, but it’s likely to make their life dramatically better.